And now here’s the crazy thing…this was my first time ever making spaghetti and meatballs. What have I been waiting for?! We slurped up every last bite on our plates and I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed spaghetti noodles for a change. I’m always buying penne or linguine.
I had some time the other evening to calculate out the cost per serving of this week’s meals. This sounded like a topic of interest for several readers, so I do hope you find this helpful. It sure is time consuming, but I will give it a go for this week and maybe a week or two in the near future 😉
In all honesty, I do a poor job of shopping sales and planning our weekly meals around sales/coupons. I also do a poor job of inventory control and lose sight (literally) of what all is in our
tiny over-stuffed pantry. I would estimate that we spend ~$350-400/month on groceries for 2 people. We eat out a maximum of 2x/week, though Mr. Prevention does frequent his company’s cafeteria and takes lunches only 1-2 times a week. However, unless I have a business meeting over lunch, I always take leftovers for lunch.
I buy high quality meats, dairy, eggs, and cheese. I try to buy local when possible, and aim to purchase hormone and antibiotic free meats and wild-caught seafood. As for cheese, I buy the good stuff and I do look for sales on Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh Parmesan to always have on hand.
I am by no means a “budget shopper” or cook, but I do hope these examples can serve as testament that with even minimal effort to save money, eating healthy and homemade doesn’t have to come with outrageous price tags. While costs of meals could certainly be lower, I figure it’s way cheaper (and better) than take-out, or even picking up sushi from your local grocer…even cheaper than many frozen pizzas! 😉
So without further adieu, a decadent spaghetti and meatball dinner…with the nutrition information and price breakdown included 😉
Basic Marinara Sauce very slightly adapted from Healthy Food for Living
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup red wine
28 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes plus their juices
8 oz tomato sauce
1 rounded Tbsp tomato paste
1 tomato, diced
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp oregano, chopped
3 Tbsp basil, chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in the onions and saute until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add in the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
Add in the rest of the ingredients, and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce heat to low and simmer sauce for about 1 hour.
Sample the sauce throughout the simmering time and adjust seasonings to taste.
Leave sauce chunky, or blend until smooth using an immersion blender (or regular blender). Yield: ~5 cups (depending on how long you simmer to reduce)
Nutrition Information (per cup): 112 calories; 2.8 g. fat; 0 mg. cholesterol; 749 mg. sodium; 14 g. carbohydrate; 3.2 g. fiber; 3.6 g. protein
Result: This was such a fresh marinara! Even my Hunts canned marinara-loving husband loved this. I think the wine, fresh basil, and fresh tomato are the key ingredients. Of course I used a Chianti in this sauce, but any red wine will do. I did not puree the marinara and left it chunky…good choice. I think it made it taste all the more fresh!
Price: Mr. Prevention was very proud of his recent purchase of Hunts Four Cheese Marinara for $0.99. While the price of homemade was higher, the taste can’t be beat! The fire roasted tomatoes were $1.98, basil (fresh) was $1.50, wine was $0.73, onion was $0.57, olive oil was $0.20, tomato sauce was $0.39, oregano (fresh) was $0.85, and the fresh tomato was $0.40. The recipe made about 5 cups. The cost broke down to $1.41 per cup.
Basic Meatballs from An Edible Mosaic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium-large onion, finely diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
3 cups whole wheat bread, crust removed, and cubed (~5 slices)
2/3 cup non-fat milk
1 lb ground beef, lean (92% lean or higher)
1 large egg white
1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely shredded (about 1/2 cup shredded)
2-3 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with a silpat liner, or tin foil sprayed with non-stick spray.
In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-low heat; add onion and garlic and saute until soft but not brown (about 10 minutes). Turn heat off and cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, combine cubed bread and milk; stir together with a fork so it forms a paste.
In a large bowl, combine cooked onion/garlic, bread/milk mixture, and all remaining ingredients. Use your hands to combine, then scoop into meatballs (~ 2 tablespoons each) and compact slightly with your hands. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and bake 30 minutes, flipping the meatballs once halfway through cooking. Yield: 21 meatballs (7 servings, 3 meatballs per serving).
Nutrition Information (per serving): 193 calories; 9 g. fat; 38 mg. cholesterol; 301 mg. sodium; 13.4 g. carbohydrate; 1.6 g. fiber; 17.6 g. protein
Result: Can I admit that I was pleasantly surprised how amazing these turned out? When I was reading through the ingredient list, I didn’t figure they would have that much flavor. And the milk + bread mush was new to me…but it just worked. And flavor? So there. 🙂 These were so tender…the meatballs nearly fell apart. Enjoy!
Price: I purchased 1 pound of 92% lean grass fed organic beef for $4.89. The parmesan ($11.99/lb) came in at $0.75/oz and olive oil at $0.20/oz. Onions calculated out to be $0.57 each when purchased in bulk. Five slices of whole wheat bread came out to $0.58 (assuming a $3.50 loaf). Assuming the recipe yields 7 servings of 3 meatballs each, the cost per serving is $1.08. Not bad!
My box of whole wheat spaghetti cost $1.69 and thus 7 servings of the homemade meatballs and spaghetti with marinara came in at $2.33/serving TOTAL. Each servings includes ~1 1/4 cup pasta, 3/4 cup marinara, and 3 meatballs. Not too shabby!
In other news, I lost 1 pound at weigh-in last night. I was honestly hoping for a bit more, but I can’t be disappointed with that. It was a great week exercise and food-wise, but I am still REALLY sore from yard work on Sunday and I think I may be retaining some water as a result. I was able to pull out a slow and steady 4 mile jog on the treadmill yesterday, but today will be a rest day or some light yoga. I need to not be sore any longer!
Question: What’s your favorite pasta shape?
And I can now say it’s Wednesday. Thank you, Twitter friends for correcting me when I thought yesterday was Wednesday. Broke my heart, people. 😉